Tuesday, 26 April 2016


It was a mad dash through Nottingham's rush hour traffic after work to meet up with a team led by Gary and Mick (and also including Geoff White and Linda Lowndes) to ring some Raven pulli for North Notts Ringing Group.

It was touch and go whether we would be able to ring the birds as the April sunshine had turned to unseasonal cold winds and heavy rain was forecast. But, in no time at all the climber had assembled his kit and begun to approach the nest. The parent birds kept a close eye on proceedings and bar the occasional 'caw' remained calm.

The birds were soon safely out of the nest and passed to the ringers. All three had metal rings fitted to their right legs and colour rings to their left. It was real privilege to see such a mighty bird in the hand and to see some characteristics that you can’t appreciate through binoculars or telescope such as the milky eye (reminiscent of Jackdaw) or the glossy hue on the mantle. Within a matter of minutes all three chicks were processed, photographed and back in the nest.

Many thanks to Mick and Gary and North Notts Ringing Group for the opportunity. It’s certainly not a bird I ever thought that I would have the privilege to ring, but as they continue to spread slowly, perhaps we will find ourselves ringing a few more.


 Raven pulli (G. Goddard)

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Holme Pierrepont, Saturday 23 April

Alex, Duncan, Sue, Tom, Gary and I made another ringing visit to the Grange end of Holme Pierrepont today, this time using the usual net rides. Another frosty morning to start but again the sun soon warmed things up. This water level is pretty high which restricted us putting some of the nets up but the rest were soon up and catching was steady all morning.

We ended with a total of 44 birds including 14 retraps. The species totals were (new/retrap): Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Blackbird 2/0, Robin 1/1, Wren 0/1, Blackcap 3/0, Whitethroat 1/0, Reed Warbler 1/0, Sedge Warbler 4/0, Cetti’s Warbler 0/1, Chiffchaff 4/1, Willow Warbler 2/1, Dunnock 2/1, Reed Bunting 3/4, Blue Tit 0/2, Great Tit 1/1, Chaffinch 1/0, Bullfinch 3/1.

The oldest retrap was a Robin ringed in 2012, we also had a returning Willow Warbler from 2014 and a Chiffchaff from 2015. The reed bed was pretty quiet and only one Reed Warbler was heard singing, which could have been the one we caught, we did see one Swift passing over.


 Sedge Warblers (top A. Phillips, bottom S. Lakeman)

Monday, 18 April 2016

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 17 April

Alex, Duncan, Gary and I made the first ringing visit to the Grange end of Holme Pierrepont today. We decided to try the new section we had cleared between the Grange pit and the A52 lake. Another frosty morning to start with, can’t you tell spring is here?! But with the clear skies, the sun soon warmed things up. This new area is pretty pole intensive as all the nets are singles apart from a double 12m ride but they were soon up and catching was steady all morning. 
We ended with a total of 40 birds including 5 retraps. The species totals were (new/retrap): Song Thrush 1/0, Robin 1/1, Wren 3/0, Blackcap 11/0, Whitethroat 1/0, Lesser Whitethroat 1/0, Cetti’s Warbler 1/1, Chiffchaff 2/0, Willow Warbler 1/0, Dunnock 4/1, Reed Bunting 5/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Great Tit 2/0, Long-tailed Tit 1/2
The oldest retrap was the Cetti’s Warbler which was ringed in October 2012. There were at least 3 Buzzards, the other summer migrants noted but not caught were Swallow, Sand Martin and Sedge Warbler.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Returning Chiffchaff

I began ringing at Newthorpe Sewage Works in June 2012, mainly to monitor the Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins and Swifts which are present during the summer months. However it seemed a wasted opportunity not to ring there through the rest of the year and to see what birds use the site through the winter months.

Even though few birds are caught in winter, it proved to be a good decision because when I submitted my latest data, Kev noticed an interesting Chiffchaff entry.

This bird was first ringed on 11 January 2014 and given the age code of 6, meaning it was an adult which had hatched before 2013. This bird has subsequently been retrapped every year since and around the same date, the 16 January 2015 and the 15 January 2016.

I guess this shows how some warblers overwinter in the UK and how important certain sites may be to their survival.

Mick P

Sibthorpe, Friday 8 April

I had another solo session in my Sibthorpe garden on Friday. That’s now half a dozen sessions with more than 300 birds of 18 species processed, plus three controls (Lesser Redpoll and two Goldfinch). As you can see from the species totals below, I get a nice mix of sparrows & finches, and thankfully not many tits. It was pleasing on Friday to ring four Reed Buntings which we hardly see here, and start colour ringing the House Sparrows (though they are very wary). Group members are very welcome to join me ringing here. Breakfast is included!

Species totals 292/43 (new/retrap) so far at Sibthorpe are:- Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Wren 3/2, Dunnock 15/7, Robin 6/3, Blackbird 9/1, Redwing 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 5/2, Coal Tit, 1/0, Blue Tit 17/3, Great Tit 5/3, Starling 6/0, House Sparrow 53/5, Tree Sparrow 3/1, Chaffinch 5/0, Goldfinch 110/13, Lesser Redpoll 0/2, Reed Bunting 5/0.

The first House Sparrow colour ringed! If I can colour ring enough, the plan is to do a HS Retrapping Adult Study; see more on the BTO website.

Brackenhurst, Sunday 10 April

With one of the hardest frosts of the winter(!), Duncan and I set up the nets at Brackenhurst yesterday. I guess I was thinking we’d catch about 30 birds and then take the poles and guys down, and not return until next winter. So it was a nice surprise, to handle 45 birds and it would have been more if the south-westerly breeze had not billowed the mist nets. Highlights were:-
  • Yellowhammer – getting decent number of them for a change, with 17 being processed. 15 of them were males, I guess the females must be on territory?
  • Goldcrest – we ringed a young female which weighed 6.6g and assumed it was breeding. However, it had a fat score of 4, so presumably was a migrant? 
  • Chiffchaffs - several singing males and three were ringed.
  • Retraps - the most interesting were a male chaffinch that was born in 2009 or earlier and a Robin from 2013 that lives in Orwin's.
Sightings – birds about included Tawny Owl, Willow Warbler, Green Woodpecker and Fieldfare. Always nice, on the shoulder of the summer, to get a mix of winter departures and summer arrivals.

Totals as follows: 45 birds processed (36 new/9retrap), breaking down as follows: Wren 1/0, Dunnock 1/0, Robin 0/1, Chiffchaff 3/0, Goldcrest 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 1/0, Blue Tit 2/3, Great Tit 0/2, Tree Sparrow 2/0, Chaffinch 8/1, Yellowhammer 15/2, Reed Bunting 2/0.

15 of the 17 Yellowhammers were male!

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 10 April

Gary, Sue and I made the final visit of the ‘winter’ to Sutton Bonington this morning. We started in sub-zero conditions with a good frost, clear skies and just a light breeze. The bright sun was showing the nets up from the start and catching was quite slow throughout the morning plus the breeze picked up as the morning progressed.

We ended with a total of 15 birds including 7 retraps. The species totals were (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Song Thrush 0/1, Goldcrest 1/0, Dunnock 0/4, Chaffinch 0/1, Yellowhammer 1/0, Reed Bunting 2/1, Greenfinch 1/0, Great Tit 2/0. The retraps were all recently ringed birds.

There were at least 4 Buzzards around and a Sparrowhawk but the Chiffchaffs that were singing last week were silent or had moved on. We took the nets down a little early to give us time to dismantle the feeders and clear the site, until we return in the autumn.


site photos by S. Lakeman

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 3 April

Alex, Tom, Gary, Sue and I made another visit to Sutton Bonington this morning. It was overcast and fairly still as we put up the nets but the sun did break through a few times during the morning.

Catching was quite slow throughout the morning, it seems that many of the birds have possibly gone off to their breeding sites. We ended with a total of 17 birds including 7 retraps.

The species totals were (new/retrap): Blackbird 0/1, Wren 3/0, Dunnock 0/1, Yellowhammer 6/3, Reed Bunting 1/0, Robin 0/1, Long-tailed Tit 0/1. The retraps were all recently ringed birds.

There were at least 2 Buzzards around, a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel and Red Kite also drifted past. Chiffchaffs were singing but none found the nets. Next week we are planning to make the final visit of this season to the site.